Planning Your Time

Crater Lake in One Day

Begin at the Steel Visitor Center, a short drive from Annie Spring, the only park entrance open year-round. The center's interpretive displays and a short video describe the forces that created the lake and what makes it unique. From here, begin circling the crater's rim by heading northeast on Rim Drive, allowing an hour to stop at overlooks—be sure to check out the Phantom Ship rock formation in the lake—before you reach the trailhead of Cleetwood Cove Trail, the only safe and legal way to access the lake. If you're game for a good workout, hike down the trail to reach the dock at trail's end and hop aboard a tour boat for a two-hour ranger-guided excursion. If you'd prefer to hike on your own, instead take the late-morning shuttle boat to Wizard Island for a picnic lunch and a trek to the island's summit.

Back on Rim Drive, continue around the lake, stopping at the Watchman Trail for a short but steep hike to this peak above the rim, which affords a splendid view of the lake and a broad vista of the surrounding southern Cascades. Wind up your visit at Crater Lake Lodge. Allow time to wander the lobby of this 1915 structure that perches right on the rim. Dinner at the lodge's restaurant, overlooking the lake, caps the day.

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